Sunday, September 27, 2009

Germantown Pretzel Festival - 2009

It's the 30th anniversary of the Germantown Pretzel Festival and it's an event we never miss. I've lived at Pinehaven for 22 years and I suppose I've attended every one of them since moving here.
This year, Saturday (09/26) began a little misty but the sun broke through in the afternoon. I talked with Molly Patton of Miss Molly's Bakery & Cafe (Farmersville) and she said she woke up Friday night worried about their tent. It survived, though the number of vendors who set up shop exceeded the usual space in Veterans Memorial Park and Molly was one of those who had to set up in a grassy overflow area.

This shot (above) shows one of the sidewalks at the park early Saturday morning, probably about 10 a.m. There was already quite a crowd but nothing like what would come later.
We came back at 3 p.m. because we wanted to hear The Greasers (all shots below). They're a Germantown band that disbanded in 1999 but came back together this year. Three of the four original members are still there; now they number ten.

This view (above) is a long shot of The Greasers beginning their 2.5 hour set in the park's gazebo. Let me tell you: they're good and they're loud!

Getting a little closer to the music, the crowd was certainly enjoying themselves.

The main singers are Randy Stiver, Richard Schoonover and Ric Hacker. Ashley Stiver also helps with vocals. Gerald Emerick plays bass; Don Frame is on drums; Bill Emerick and Brandon Schoonover play guitar; Steven Cross plays keyboard; and Julie Stiver plays saxophone.

I was impressed! There are plenty of good musicians but these guys are simply exceptional!

A view from behind the band, shooting this picture through the open back of the gazebo.

The band piled their equipment at the side of the gazebo.
Mom and enjoyed both trips to the festival. As always Mom buys homemade bread that a Germantown church offers. I finally bought a soft pretzel (that's the point of the festival, after all) as I found a church selling huge pretzels for $2 (the commercial food area sold small ones for $2, the large ones for $3).
The event ran Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Remember the Beatles "Rocky Raccoon"? Well, we didn't choose the name for that reason, though the song was going through my mind at the time, but rather because this raccoon is "rocky" in the meaning of "rough".

I walked out for the mail several days ago and as I approached the mailbox, this raccoon was sitting under a nearby pine and watching me with some fascination. I sort of took a double take, thinking I wasn't really seeing an animal. But when he stayed - rare, indeed - I grabbed the mail and backed off slowly. Clearly a healthy animal doesn't act that way.
Then, Mom called me to the kitchen window a day later and asked me to have a look. The raccoon was slowly ambling across our lawn, every now and then completely stopping, and often falling entirely down. I've seen this before and suspected rabies.
The coon would paw at the ground searching for maple seeds and seemed hungry. Pretty soon he dragged himself to our bird bath (see below) and took a long, hearty drink.

I have a pan of water sitting atop and anchored there with rocks picked up from nearby fields. The poor raccoon nearly lay down as he drank. He literally seemed on his last legs.
When he finished, I watched him work his way to the front and begin slowly to climb a catalpa tree right along S. Clayton Road. He climbed with great difficulty but eventually managed to pull himself into a tree cavity. We didn't see him again that day.
Mom has since purchased a bag of dry dog food and is placing it in a metal pan beside the birdbath. The last two mornings it's been licked clean. I watched one of our many squirrels today. He got a drink but didn't even look at the dog food. Of course we could have a nightly stray dog walk by ... but I doubt it. I've never seen one.
So Rocky is a good name for this poor fellow. I wonder if he simply tangled with a car and is nursing a broken leg? In any case, we'll maintain a safe distance, keep the dog food coming and hope for the best.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Going Nuts!

While I'm washing the lunch dishes today, I spotted this squirrel having his own lunch just beneath the window. When I watched him carefully I would see that he was combing old maple seeds out of the grass with his paws. He'd quickly lift the seed to his mouth and eat it with relish. But this shot seems to show him gnawing on something larger than a mere maple seed. The yard is full of acorns (we have two oaks) and this looks more of that size.

But acorns there are this year ... and in abundance. It's not a banner year but still there are plenty lying around ready for the squirrels to harvest. Most are still green when they fall but there is some variety to the coloration. While the oak out front (near Clayton Road and beside our driveway) drops larger, mature acorns, an oak by the henhouse seems to produce a smaller variety.

This squirrel (same as in the first picture) is a female (see the teats?) and her mouth seems muddied by the frantic searching among the grass. After this picture was taken, she went to the bird feeder and drank long and hard, balancing herself with her tiny fingers.

I enjoy the squirrels in the winter, too, when they try to find their buried treasure. While they're now busy placing the acorns underground, they'll get hungry in January and remember the meals they've tucked away. I've seen them part the snow searching for them.
Often times, as the many seedling oaks tell in the spring, they'll forget where they buried them. Who can blame them when the landscape turns to snow and ice? But we have more oaks to thank for their forgetfulness.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Deer!

Dad and I are having lunch - wonderful homemade potato soup - when Mom calls from the kitchen. "Come here! Hurry! Be quiet!" she whispers. I slide my chair back and round the corner and find her pointing out the large bay window in front of the sink. Two young deer - both female - are nibbling contentedly at my sunflowers. So that's why the flowers look so bedraggled!

The doe are in no hurry and experiment with tastes of the horseradish and tomatoes, too. But only the sunflowers meet with their culinary approval.

This close-up shot was at about 12X as I stood beside the sink and rested the camera on the windowsill. The deer are gorgeous with their still-white spots. We've seen as many as five at a time in recent weeks, including Mama. She is particularly alert and skittish while the babies, alone for the first time, seem intent on experiencing everything in this new world.

After about 15 minutes, the pair amble east towards the front of of our property and push beneath the Scotch pines. Then they run north towards our meadow and the woods.
My soup is now getting cold but my soul - what there is of it - has warmed in relation to any loss.